Latest articles

End is nigh for GSDF tanks as amphibious vehicles muscle in

Updated : 21.09.2016 / Category Capsule

Japan's Ministry of Defense is embarking on the joint development of an amphibious vehicle with the United States that will consign tanks used by the Self-Defense Forces to being "relics of history."

According to Japan's Medium Term Defense Program, the ministry will purchase 52 U.S.-made AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles by fiscal 2030, and will deploy these mostly to an amphibious vehicle unit to be established by the end of that year in the Ground Self-Defense Force. If production of the AAV-7's successor vehicle increases, "this unit will effectively become Japan's version of the marines and its tank division will largely disappear," a senior GSDF official said.

Tokyo governor's new secretary irks Chinese Embassy, pro-Pyongyang group

Updated : 20.09.2016 / Category Capsule

New Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike's appointment of Kazusa Noda as a "special secretary" to the governor has furrowed brows at the Chinese Embassy and the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).

A former member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, Noda is known for his ultraconservative views, including support for reinstating the 1890-1947 Meiji Constitution that provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy and was founded on the principle that sovereignty resided in the person of the Emperor.

Toyota unduly exploiting subcontractors

Updated : 15.09.2016 / Category Economy

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Subcontractors that manufacture auto parts for Toyota Motor Corp. were stunned by a report that the automaking giant had downwardly revised its operating profits for the current term to 43.9 percent, representing a drop on the same term last year.

But it was not the deterioration in the firm's business performance that shook the subcontractors, rather, it was the prospect of having to make price cuts—something that Toyota was certain to demand.

Toyota and its primary cooperative companies ordinarily start negotiations over procurements for the second half of the fiscal year in September. "This year, Toyota hinted as early as July that we should cut prices further because it had experienced a decline in business performance due to the stronger yen," said a high-ranking official of an auto parts manufacturer with links to Toyota. "This demonstrates Toyota's extraordinary obsession with price reductions."

Fukushima nuclear disaster 'Class-A war criminals' landing top jobs in private sector

Updated : 13.09.2016 / Category Capsule

More than five years have passed since the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Now, an increasing number of people within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are saying "the mourning period is finally over."

Their sentiment refers to the fact that Tetsuhiro Hosono, who was commissioner of METI's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy at the time of nuclear meltdowns, recently landed the presidency of JECC Corp. (formerly Japan Electronic Computer Co.), a company that leases information-processing equipment. It is the kind of position he could have held years ago—were it not for the accident.

METI retaliation suspected in unusual removal of top TEPCO executive

Updated : 12.09.2016 / Category Capsule

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The purge of high-ranking personnel from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., is having ramifications that spread far and wide.

Shinichiro Yano, a man considered the leader of conservative executives and head of TEPCO Power Grid, Inc.'s Tama regional office in western Tokyo, has been forced to step down effective September 30. It is extremely unusual for such a personnel matter to be implemented outside of the regular summer reshuffle.

According to a midranking TEPCO employee, the prevailing view within the company is that Yano's ejection is "an act of retaliation" by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry because Takashi Shimada, a METI official who pushed reforms at the utility, was sacked as the ministry's deputy vice-minister in accordance with the wishes of the Prime Minister's Office. The clean-out of TEPCO personnel could continue further.

Contenders in dogfight to become Mizuho Financial Group's next boss

Updated : 09.09.2016 / Category Capsule

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Rumors are swirling over who will become the next head of Mizuho Financial Group, although the current president, Yasuhiro Sato, has suggested he could stay on in the job for some time yet.

Sato, who also is the group's chief executive officer, retained his posts during a personnel shake-up in 2016, effectively removing candidates who joined the company in 1979 and 1980 from contention to replace him when he eventually steps down. This includes Deputy President Daisaku Abe, who was widely regarded as a top candidate during behind-the-scenes jockeying last year to get in position to take over from Sato. The focus of attention has now shifted to executives who joined the bank in 1982 and 1983.

Toyota president's son still veiled in secrecy

Updated : 08.09.2016 / Category Capsule

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Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda's son, Daisuke, is already being tipped to eventually follow in his father's footsteps, yet very little is known publicly about the young man who could one day take over the wheel at the major Japanese automaker.

Aged in his late 20s, Daisuke graduated from Keio University and then continued his studies at a university in Boston until 2014. At the end of that year, there were whispers he had landed a job at Denso Corp., a major auto parts manufacturer affiliated with Toyota, but this was never officially confirmed. But there is a widespread view that Daisuke has already started working for Toyota.

Why Abe's diplomacy with Putin will come up short

Updated : 06.09.2016 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times

The prospect of a constitutional amendment has been making headlines after proponents of revising the supreme law gained a two-third majority in both chambers of the Diet following the July 10 Upper House election. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's top political priority for the remainder of the year is not amending the Constitution, but holding talks with Russia to conclude a peace treaty and resolving the territorial dispute over the Russian-occupied islands off Hokkaido.

Abe has long maintained that the only way to resolve the territorial row with Moscow would be for him to talk directly with President Vladimir Putin. He has thus instructed officials of the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry to secure as many opportunities as possible for one-on-one talks with Putin during his overseas tours this fall. It has already been decided that Abe and Putin will meet in the Russian port city of Vladivostok during the Eastern Economic Forum starting Sept. 2 and again on the sidelines of the Sept. 4-5 Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China. He looks forward to meeting with Putin again in late September during the United Nations General Assembly session in New York.

Idemitsu's internal mudslinging having far-reaching ramifications

Updated : 05.09.2016 / Category Economy

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This is no longer a feud affecting just the founding family of Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd., Japan's second largest oil wholesaler. In mid-August, the head of one of Japan's three megabanks received a phone call from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"Your bank doesn't really intend to antagonize the ministry, does it?" the senior METI official said down the line.

In early August, the second act unfolded in the tense drama between Idemitsu's founding family and the company's management over the plan to merge Idemitsu with Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., Japan's fifth-largest oil wholesaler. The founding family opposes the merger. On August 3, Shosuke Idemitsu, the eldest son of founder Sazo Idemitsu and holder of 34 percent of Idemitsu shares (with voting rights), announced he had bought a 0.1 percent stake in Showa Shell for about ¥400 million.

The LDP's draft constitution

Updated : 02.09.2016 / Category Sentaku in The Japan Times

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party's draft constitutional amendment has become so ill-reputed that it is now being treated as a "historic document." Still, the 2012 draft remains a heavy burden on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pursuit of revising the nation's supreme statute while he's in office. The LDP's inability to effectively shelve the draft as invalid continues to keep its coalition partner Komeito as well as opposition parties on guard over the issue.

The draft amendment was essentially penned by Yosuke Isozaki, deputy head of the LDP's Constitutional Reform Promotion Headquarters, while the LDP was out of power and before Abe returned to the party's helm in September 2012. The problem with the document was that it did not receive full scrutiny of Abe, who, in his pursuit of constitutional revision, entrusted Isozaki to work out its details. Meanwhile, Sadakazu Tanigaki, the LDP president at the time the draft was unveiled, was also indifferent to the text.

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